The Jewel Filled Ocean of Devotional Service

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I am reading The jewel filled ocean of devotional service which is better known as Bhakti Ratnakara by Sri Narahari Cakravarti. This is a book that describes the pastimes of some of the disciples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, their relationships with him and with each other.

The book focuses on the time period just after Mahaprabhu has passed away. In the book his passing is not described in detail but the impact on his disciples and on those in the community of devotees is detailed in great depth.

The parents of Srinivasa Acarya are mentioned and their association with Sri Caitanya as well as his prediction that they will have a child and the great acarya he will become. After his birth Srinivasa is well known amongst he devotees due to the prediction of his birth and by his great devotion.

In the early chapters Narahari documents Srinivasa’s desire to see Mahaprabhu after all he has heard from his parents about the greatest personality. He goes around seeking the permission of all the local devotees for his trip to see Caitanya. This takes quite some time and in that time the Lord passes from the world.

This is a devastating blow for everyone, especially the young Srinivas who was on his way to meet the Lord. Not only this but other senior disciples of Mahaprabhu also pass away very quickly which drives Srinivasa into a deep depression from which he concludes death is the only reasonable next step.

He begins to meet the disciples and associates of the Lord and they pass him on from one to the other encouraging him to move on from village to village ever closer to where the Lord passed away.

The disciples and associates are devastated beyond belief at the passing of the Lord and they see no sense in doing anything or speaking to anyone. Reading about each great personality and the abject suffering they are undergoing in the days after the event is very difficult.

Yet as each personality meets with Srinivasa they know who he is, the boy predicted by Mahaprabhu, and this lifts their spirits enough to bring them back from their devastation. Those who have not spoken or moved for days come out to see him, they get up from their seats and embrace his, and they cry bitter tears of separation as they offer him their affection and association.

Srinivasa has been crying for days since he heard the news and the world came crashing down around him. He cries with the acaryas and in this way they find a deep association in their shared grief.

Page after page the reader is met with devotees undergoing the most dismal of circumstances, dealing with the experience of an unmitigated disaster. Having lost the purpose of their lives they are unable to function and have completely collapsed.

What is most telling about the story at this stage is the depth of relationship between the characters: The kind and sweet way the devotees treat each other; The great concern not only for the aggrieved but also in the way that everyone treats Srinivasa. He is recognized and looked after at each stage, encouraged, and passed from community to community in a loving and caring fashion. They have great expectations of him and they care to ensure he is treated well and cultivated appropriately by the right people.

Eventually they send him to Vrindavan. Where I have just read up to he has been passed into the care of Sri Raghava Pandit along with Narrotama Dasa. They will tour Mathura and the surrounding region and Raghava Pandit will reveal to them all the holy places.

Antony Brennan

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